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What Do You Do With A B.A. In English

There are a countless number of people come together, performing a vast array of jobs, to make any show happen – writers, directors, actors, musicians, designers, producers, stagehands, press agents, accountants, general managers, box office workers, etc. However, on the ground in Chicago, there is a very small but mighty team that fulfills the marketing dreams and desires of every show on the Broadway In Chicago calendar.

I polled the office to identify some of our marketing staff’s strangest and most memorable assignments from recent engagements and here is what they said:

The Headless Mannequinn and his "Dawn" suit

The Headless Mannequinn and his "Dawn" suit

1. JERSEY BOYS: Located and dressed a headless mannequin for a mall display
2. DIRTY DANCING: Wrangled over 80 watermelons for a launch event
3. MAMMA MIA!: Customized over 10,000 individually-wrapped wedding bubbles with a special offer tag
4. HAIRSPRAY: Found and purchased 20 blue wigs for the Chicago Children’s Choir performance on the Thanksgiving Day parade
5. GAY PRIDE PARADE: Hired and costumed drag queens and kings for the Broadway In Chicago float
6. XANADU: Found roller skates and practiced skating around the office for the launch event
7. MARY POPPINS: Located and purchased over 2,000 pieces of biscotti early in the morning for a launch event
8. TASTE OF CHICAGO: 20 team members handed out over 10,000 pieces of promotional merchandise in less than 30 minutes
9. WICKED: Judged who was “green enough” to be eligible to earn tickets for the first, second and third anniversary 365 Witches event
10. JERSEY BOYS: Hosted a pizza party for over 5,000 people at multiple locations around the city to celebrate the one year anniversary

Of course, this is just a sampling of what our staff accomplishes every day, but I cannot think of many more jobs that require such versatility, flexibility and a sense of humor. When we all wake up in the morning and come to work, we have no idea what is going to transpire in the coming day, but it is sure not to be ordinary or mundane and will certainly not go as planned. Whatever it may be, the Broadway In Chicago marketing team is ready to do anything for our shows!

-Andrew Damer, Marketing Director

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reminder!

You still have time to enter to win Eileen’s opening night tickets to CHICAGO THE MUSICAL next week. Just leave your answer in the comments for Monday’s blog (not this one!). We’re picking the winner today at 5 pm!

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who loves you?

I am was so sorry to see WICKED go. It has been an incredible three-and-half years, but we simply don’t have time to rest. Instead of sitting on our laurels, we have many more shows!

Joan Marcus

Drew Gehling, Cory Grant, Bryan McElroy and Michael Ingersoll with the Company of Jersey Boys. Photo: Joan Marcus

There is so much going on. The new block of JERSEY BOYS went on sale last Friday, and as the TV ad says “750,000 people have seen JERSEY BOYS so far and more every night!” The Group Sales office is booking away. It is great time to get out and have a fabulous evening.

 

Ashley Brown as 'Mary Poppins,' Katherine Leigh Doherty as 'Jane Banks,' ALexander SCheitinger as 'Michael Banks,' Gavin Lee as 'Bert,' and the original Broadway company of MARY POPPINS. Photo by Joan Marcus

Ashley Brown as 'Mary Poppins,' Katherine Leigh Doherty as 'Jane Banks,' ALexander SCheitinger as 'Michael Banks,' Gavin Lee as 'Bert,' and the original Broadway company of MARY POPPINS. Photo by Joan Marcus

If you live in the Gold Coast area of Chicago, keep your eyes open for the Banks Family. I knew MARY POPPINS is rehearsing in a historic Gold Coast venue but I was very surprised to see on my way into Starbucks and saw Karl Kenzler (George Banks) and Megan Osterhaus (Winifred Banks). I am still hoping to run into the two Broadway stars, Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins) and Gavin Lee (Bert) in the neighborhood.

-Gemma

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i have been changed for good

Oriental Theatre

Oriental Theatre

I began my final day of WICKED alone in the Oriental. For me there is nothing more special than to sit in the middle of a silent theatre with the ghost light on the stage, soaking up the WICKED set, present of how gorgeous it looked on the stage of the Oriental. This theatre was made for WICKED – not since the theatre opened with RAGTIME did I feel that a show was so completely at home. When you sit alone in a silent theatre, while there are no audible sounds, the theatre is filled with the millions of voices that have sat in those seats over the years, the brilliant music, voices and applause that fills that building 8 shows a week. There could have been a better way to start my day…something like church for a hopeless theatre junkie. Michael Burkett, Broadway In Chicago’s Director of Front of House Operations, who spends the majority of his time in our theatres and manages all of the staff that tend to every customers needs so brilliantly – tapped me on the shoulder and we were off to what became “one short day”!

WICKED drawing for final performance

WICKED drawing for final performance

It was time for the final drawing – there were over 300 people in the lobby just waiting in breathless anticipation to be one of the 20 people that would have the chance to sit in the front row of the theatre for the final performance. It was so exciting and so bitter sweet. There were people from 8 – 80, all WICKED devotees. These were the people that were really responsible for the 3 ½-year run. While many people would say that it was the marketing of the show, we in the business know that it is the audience and their connection to the show. It is their words that spoke most loudly – any show that you walk out of and can say “I want to go back and see it again” is going to be a hit! And these were the people who went out and not only said that they wanted to come back but did (over and over) and also told all their friends – hundreds of thousands of friends urged by their enthusiasm to experience WICKED. The smiles of this crowd and the screams of glee with each name pulled made me cry and laugh all at the same time. I got the chance to say thank you and let them all know that we have so appreciated their support and love for the show. I also got to congratulate each and every winner – one family had done the drawing over 50 times and one winner was going to see WICKED for the first time.

After the last drawing was complete, I wandered through the dressing rooms giving final hugs and then on to the show. It was energy charged, with the audience applauding every cast member’s entrance. Each song brought thunderous applause and some standing ovations in the middle of the show! I sat and watched, trying to imprint this show that had done so much for Chicago, Broadway In Chicago, and me. I didn’t cry but could only think of the all the things that happened around this show: the special events with the cast, the parties, the rehearsals, even back to the initial press conference. When I said that I didn’t cry, I meant for the first 2.5 hours. Once we got into “For Good,” it was all over, and not just for me. It was like hearing 2200 people cry, lead by Dee (Elphaba) and Annaleigh (Glinda) who were hanging onto every note with tears streaming. And in less than a clock tick, it was the last bubble ride and onto the curtain call, where producer David Stone spoke and acknowledged all of the cast, crew, orchestra, all of us at Broadway In Chicago and most of all, the Chicago audiences. He said that Chicago had changed both WICKED and himself (both personally and professionally) “for good.” His final words were a repeat of the ad that he ran in the Sunday paper “Farewell Chicago, we will miss you most of all.”

Stage Door for final WICKED performance

Stage Door for final WICKED performance

Lots of hugs and tears backstage and hundreds of people at the stage door catching last glimpses and autographs from the cast, and the cast as always as generous to their fans as the fans are to them.

But what is real theatre without a party? And party we all did! The party was held in a spectacular lounge, called Vertigo, on the 26th floor of the Hotel Dana. Leslee, my assistant, took care of all the details and the party was smashing. And the highlight of the evening was Broadway In Chicago’s president Lou Raizin’s presentation to David Stone and Marc Platt of an original oil painting of the Oriental Marquee featuring WICKED. The whole night was perfect, Hotel Dana’s hospitality was overwhelming and it just might have been one of the best parties in WICKED’s 3 1/2 year history!

In this public space – I would like to thank all my friends at WICKED from each and every cast member to the crew, orchestra, wardrobe, box office, and everyone who worked in the front of house. And WICKED would not have been WICKED without everyone in advertising, promotions, events, and PR – led by Marketing Director Ashlee Harris. But mostly I want to thank David Stone and Marc Platt for giving us the chance of a lifetime. WICKED was a dream come true!

WICKED cast

-Eileen

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Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Carol Rosegg

French Guards in the National Touring Production of Monty Python’s SPAMALOT. Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

What a great two days! The first semi pulled in to the Auditorium Theatre at 8am yesterday morning. I was still very tired, but woke up very quickly when I saw the driver of the truck back into the loading dock, after crossing both lanes of Michigan Avenue. He did this with ease, much easier than I could have done parallel parking a compact car.And so began the Advance Load in for MONTY PYTHON’s SPAMALOT. Crew and Teamsters went to work unloading the truck. The purpose of the advance load in is to prep the theatre for all the flurry of activity that begins when the clock strikes 1:00pm for Load-In!

Though the trucks are just now arriving in Chicago with the set, many months of preparation have brought us to this point. Countless phone calls, emails and faxes have been made to make sure everything was ready when the trucks rolled in to our city. It is definitely an exciting opportunity to welcome the show to Chicago for the third time! To see the set come off the truck in pieces and to meet face to face with the folks that have been on the other end of those calls, emails and faxes helps bring a sense that it’s really happening – almost the excitement of live theatre.

Monday was spent mostly unloading the semi trucks: set, road boxes that contain equipment, office supplies for Company Management, wardrobe and everything else the show needs to travel from city to city. Teamsters and stage crew unload the truck and begin to set it up on stage and in the various offices. Stage management also arrived to get a lay of the backstage land – decided where to put hair, wardrobe, actors, etc. The flurry of energy in the building is invigorating.

While the stagehands continued to set up the stage, the rest of the Production staff were busy ensuring that things were going as planned: coordinating deliveries of show supplies; tracking Fed Ex boxes; making sure flowers were delivered to the appropriate cast member. All of this activity because the show has its first performance tonight. By 3pm things were mostly set; just in time for actors to do a quick rehearsal on stage. While normally a rehearsal would not be done, today is the first day for one of the cast members.

When the members of the audience begin to fill the house, many people are already tired from two days of work. Those people are just a few of the folks that work very hard to bring shows to the audiences of Chicago and audiences all over. While I am sure it is tiring, and sometimes stressful, I am relatively certain if I went and asked anyone if it was worth it, I am sure I would get the same response, “Without a doubt.”

-Brad, Operations Associate

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strange magic

I flew from New York into Chicago yesterday, going from colder to coldest. Luckily my flight was blissfully on time and uneventful. Upon landing I went to the Drury Lane Theatre and saw XANADU’s set busting off of the stage. I love it when our show seems a bit too big for the theatre that it’s in. It sets the stage (please forgive) for the show’s energy to overwhelm the theatre. The cast was in the middle of performing the song “Strange Magic” and it was a big relief to hear that the sound system was working well. XANADU, like most rock or pop musicals, is a tricky show to sound mix…apparently it’s easier to mix a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical than it is to mix TOMMY…and it usually takes us longer to get our mix right…you learn very interesting and very diverse tidbits of information when producing a show.

Then the press came to into the rehearsal and I got up on stage to stop the rehearsal and introduce our director, Chris Ashley. The spot lights left me snow-blind (I’m not onstage much & my last acting was in the 1980’s in high school), and my mike was going on & off so I promised the press that the show would sound better than that microphone and I, and then I got myself off that stage as quickly as possible. Chris’s mike worked fine and he did not go snow-blind, and the cast performed “Don’t Walk Away” without a hitch.

Last night we had an invited dress rehearsal of the show. The audience was amazing. There was one woman that Dan Knechtges (the choreographer) suggested we pay to come back to see every show. I love seeing the show happening again…it’s something that I’ve been working on since 2001, and I love seeing it come to life on stage. I hope you do too.

-Robert Ahrens, XANADU producer

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Busy, Busy Broadway Bee

Sorry – I am late today with my blog. We are working on a lot of things today that took my focus.

Tonight is DEFYING INEQUALITY at 8:00 tonight at the Park West. I am very excited about this concert as it means so much to me when actors pool their talents to make a difference in this world. Should be a great concert – only 90 minutes and only $30.00 so if you have nothing to do tonight just walk up to the Park West Box Office and buy a ticket.

As well as DEFYING INEQUALITY – the cast of XANADU is singing at the Bulls Game tonight – they are getting off the airplane from N.Y. and going right to the game!

I have spent the day planning the entertainment for the annual meeting of the Chicago Convention and Tourism bureau. Two shows will be performing XANADU and LEGALLY BLONDE and we will be designing a custom video for the performance – perhaps I will put it up on our You Tube Channel after the event. Did you know that we have a You Tube Channel? This is a luncheon with over 1000 of the top corporations, government officials and hospitality organizations in Chicago and it is tremendous that they allow us to feature our productions.

XANADU has their first preview this week on Friday! We will be welcoming the cast to Chicago with a press conference that will introduce the cast to the media and give them a sneak peek at rehearsals.

Sorry to be short but I am off to dinner with two of Broadway In Chicago’s marketing director’s and then to the Park West…join me there, really!

-Eileen

P.S. Be sure to read the blog on Friday…it will feature someone from the cast or creative team of XANADU.

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Get on the bus and defy inequality

I am packing up my desk today to get ready to fly to Charlotte for the ABA conference. No- not American Bar Association and …nope -not American Banking Association. I am on my way to the American Bus Association conference! It sounds strange but our membership has been instrumental in booking hundreds of thousands of group tickets each year. We love those motor coaches at Broadway In Chicago. They come from all over North America to see Broadway In Chicago shows. (And if you have ever driven by one of our theatres when a show is letting out you know I am telling the truth). It is a great opportunity to do advance bookings for JERSEY BOYS, XANADU, MARY POPPINS and all the new shows like the pre-Broadway, THE ADDAMS FAMILY. I will have a blast talking to tour operators and selling, selling, selling but I just realized I am going to miss an amazing show.

Just my luck that cast members from WICKED, JERSEY BOYS, GREASE and THE SECOND CITY are all getting together to do special benefit cabaret performance at the PARK WEST this Monday at 8pm. That will be a lot of talent all in one room! They are calling the event DEFYING INEQUALITY which plays on WICKED’s theme of not judging people on first impressions and will benefit several organizations around the country that support equality for all. Tickets are $30 and $50. Anyone who is interested in attending, or if you want more information, should click here or go to ticketmaster.com or call 312-902-1212.

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Addams Family Will Sing in Chicago in Fall 2009, Prior to Broadway

By Kenneth Jones

Playbill

10/30/08

What rhymes with “Morticia”? Chicago audiences will find out starting in November 2009, when Broadway in Chicago hosts the world premiere of the new Broadway-aimed musical, The Addams Family, based on the macabre characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams.

The musical with book by Tony Award nominees Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), and music and lyrics by Drama Desk Award winner Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party) will begin tryout performances Nov. 13, 2009, at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre in Chicago.

Produced by Elephant Eye Theatrical (Stuart Oken, Michael Leavitt and Five Cent Productions) and Roy Furman, The Addams Family will play a limited engagement in Chicago through Jan. 10, 2010, prior to opening on Broadway in spring 2010.

No casting has been announced, but Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth played Gomez and Morticia, respectively, in a developmental presentation of the material earlier this year, and are attached to a January 2009 workshop of it.

Direction and design are by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, lauded for the darkly theatrical Shockheaded Peter and the Metropolitan Opera’s recent acclaimed production of Philip Glass’ Satyagraha.

Choreography is by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys), lighting is by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (The Coast of Utopia, Aida) and musical direction is by Mary-Mitchell Campbell (who won a Drama Desk for her orchestrations for Company, and is musical director of Road Show at The Public Theater).

According to production notes, “In a prolific career spanning six decades, Charles Addams created several thousand cartoons, sketches and drawings, many of which were famously published in The New Yorker. But it was his creation of characters that came to be known as The Addams Family that brought Addams his greatest acclaim. With a unique style that combined the twisted, macabre and just plain weird with charm, wit and enchantment, Addams’ drawings of Gomez, Morticia, Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandmama, Lurch and Thing have entertained millions worldwide and served as the inspiration for multiple television series and motion pictures.”

Producer Stuart Oken of Elephant Eye Theatrical stated Oct. 30, “It’s an extraordinary privilege as well as a daunting responsibility being entrusted with Charles Addams’ most beloved creations, but I’m confident this outstanding creative team is re-imagining the work in a way that would have made Charlie proud.”

Composer-lyricist Lippa composed the music for the Broadway production of Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention. On Broadway he was also represented by the revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, for which he wrote three new songs. His musicals also include Asphalt Beach (music and lyrics) at Northwestern University by the American Music Theatre Project in October 2006 and john & jen Off-Broadway at the Lamb’s Theatre. Lippa’s recordings include Julia Murney’s new CD “I’m Not Waiting” (producer, three songs); the Off-Broadway cast album of The Wild Party (RCA Victor), which he also produced; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (RCA Victor), which earned him a Grammy Award nomination; and john & jen (Fynsworth Alley), which he associate produced. He is currently writing the music and lyrics for a new musical based on Jules Feiffer’s The Man in the Ceiling (for which Feiffer is writing the book), for Disney Theatrical on Broadway.

Brickman and Elice penned the book to the original musical, Turn of the Century, currently having its world premiere at Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

Tickets to The Addams Family are now available to groups of 20 or more by calling (312) 977-1710.

For more information on The Addams Family visit http://www.BroadwayInChicago.com

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Eye On Chicago, interviews with Josef Brown and Amanda Cobb: Dirty Dancing

CBS 2 Chicago

Interview with Josef Brown and Amanda Cobb

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